SUMMERSIDE – An idea fostered by Experience P.E.I. to bring cruise ship passengers to the Summerside area has generated much interest in the local community.
Bill Kendrick, who co-owns Experience P.E.I. with his wife Mary, said since word got out that the Island-based tour company was planning cruise ship excursions to the College of Piping next year, several people have expressed interest in finding out more about creating tours to bring additional passengers to the area.
Experience P.E.I. is the only Island-based tour company providing shore excursions to the cruise ship industry. They are currently working with Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, KDB and Seabourn.
He said in 2014, about 120,000 passengers are expected to arrive in Charlottetown aboard just over 90 cruise ships and now is the time to start thinking about how to tap into this growing market by developing unique, authentic Island shore excursions.
To meet the demand, a half-day workshop has been scheduled for Monday, March 25 to offer advice on how to develop new shore excursions to be offered to cruise lines for 2014.
The workshop will include: an overview of the cruise ship industry; examination of current shore excursion offerings; discussion of the kind of product cruise lines are seeking; step-by-step product development process - come with an idea, leave with a product plan; pricing your product; and how to get your shore excursion to the cruise lines.
Kendrick said along with showing how individual providers can attract cruise ship passengers there may be opportunities for some to partner with others.
“Sometimes you need more than one element so you can put people together and that makes more interesting excursion opportunities,” Kendrick said.
He said there were no detailed ideas presented by those who contacted him, but there was interest.
“People are looking at what might be available in terms of trying to develop some cultural things based on heritage,” he said. “There’s certainly the potential of some Acadian product being developed. We’ve had those kinds of conversations.”
Kendrick said the challenge with bringing shore excursions to anywhere beyond Summerside is time and distance.
“The moment you move into a day-long shore excursion the price goes up because you have to include a lunch and the bus rental goes from a half-day to a full-day rental,” he said. “Given that the cruise ship market is very price sensitive, that’s always a challenge. That’s not to say that if we’re able to put together some really unique excursions that some of the higher end cruise lines might say that’s something different and we can’t get that anywhere else and be interested in picking it up.”
Kendrick said the workshop is aimed at prompting people to think creatively.
“We have to distinguish ourselves from everything else that’s being offered,” he said. “We’re hearing that more and more from the cruise lines. They want something that is different. They will always be able to sell the bus tour to Green Gables. That’s just a given. That’s an important location and tourism product. But they’re also starting to get more and more repeat cruisers. If they’ve already been on the Green Gables tour, they’re probably not going to go on it again. That’s where the opportunity lies in terms of bringing forth something completely different.”
Tourism Summerside has jumped on board with the idea and any members of that organization talking part in the workshop will be reimbursed by Tourism Summerside 50 per cent of the cost for the workshop.
The workshop fee is $50 per person plus GST. Registration deadline is March 18.
To register or for more information, contact: Experience P.E.I. at 902-887-3238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.